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I'm not the mother he expected, and probaby won't be the grandmother he expcts either

(81 Posts)
mothercat Mon 09-Dec-19 21:29:39

New here and this is my first post after reading through several of the forums. Looking to commiserate.

Son and DIL are expecting first baby, our first grandchild.
Things are getting tense with our son. He's 33 y/o and increasingly over the years he has let me know that I am a disappointment as a mom. As he sees it he is always having to rein me in for something I have done that makes his life miserable. DH thinks it started when he wanted to get a personal loan to cover living expenses while he went to school so he didn't have to work and could concentrate on his studies. We (DH and I) said "no" because he would need us to cosign and we were not in a position to pay back the loan if he couldn't.
I think it goes back further to multiple other incidents where we would need to help him with money, travel, etc. and weren't in a position to do that or felt that he was making bad decisions.
It seems that no matter how I try to help, even when it's something he specifically asked for, it is not good enough. Now with the baby coming I have become so gun shy that I tend to not get involved for fear of once again being harshly criticized and that just reinforces his feelings of me being inappropriate.
Of all 4 of my children he was the golden child, had everything together, looks, ability, drive and I thought I was being supportive, but he doesn't see it that way and now I'm really afraid to say anything about anything. Trying not to comment on anything he and DIL do or say regarding pregnancy, birth, and baby, but that looks like disinterest and lack of support to him.
I feel like I can't win.

Bbbface Tue 10-Dec-19 11:13:47

Odd for a mother to describe one of her children as “the golden child”
What is your relationship like with your other children?

The fact is - when push came together shove you didn’t support him (he wasn’t asking for money, he was asking you to trust him that he would be able to pay back a loan so he could concentrate on studies, and you didn’t)

Bbbface Tue 10-Dec-19 11:15:15

So I am not at all surprised that his approach to you isn’t as you hoped. Because your approach to him wasn’t as he hoped.

Operalover Tue 10-Dec-19 11:15:48

Hi. Sometimes even though we do our best for our children it's never good enough for them. That is simply how they see it not how it actually is. My own son hasn't spoken to me for 9 years over very little , we had a difference of opinion on his lack of support for his 3 daughters. I would say to you just hang in there and let him know your door is always open and you are there. As for your grandchild let them know you would love to be involved and await their response. Good luck. X

Chinesecrested Tue 10-Dec-19 11:17:59

Hopefully your other children are nicer to you than he is. He just sounds like the golden child who was spoilt. He needs to grow up.

TrendyNannie6 Tue 10-Dec-19 11:25:18

I feel for you, but to be honest he sounds manipulative and spoilt you say no matter what you try to do it never seems good enough, I think he should start having a bit of respect for you, hoping things change when your grandchild comes along and he matures a bit,wishing you all the best and hope things work out for you all, think he needs to come of his high horse

freyja Tue 10-Dec-19 11:34:22

This says more about your son then you. I think you should try turning the tables and tell him that he is a disappointment to you after everything you have done for him. Tell him that you did your best and if that's not good enough we will just have to wait and see what sort of parent he will turn out to be. After all no one is taught on how to be a parent and as we all know it is the hardest thing in the world.

Your other children do not complain or criticised so you must of done something right. Don't beat yourself up about it, some people never grow up or are satisfied with their lot.

dragonfly46 Tue 10-Dec-19 11:37:03

My DD used to tell me when she was younger that she felt I never supported her enough. If she complained about other children at school for example, I would ask what she had done whereas other mothers were immediately on the phone to the child's mother concerned.
She now has told me that she thinks I was right to always look at the other's point of view.

Your DS obviously loves you otherwise he would not still be around. Just be yourself it is all you can be.

chris8888 Tue 10-Dec-19 11:49:43

I have one the same, my sister who married well and had her own business has been able to help her sons financially. I have not, one of my sons resents this. Makes me feel I should have been able to offer the same to him. Nothing I can do about how he feels I just point out that now he is an adult he has to manage with what he has, or work harder, re-train etc.

Catrin75 Tue 10-Dec-19 11:59:29

So sorry for you mothercat. Please don't take this as criticism but if you do what you always you'll get what you've always got or another way of looking at it is "A can't change B's behaviour but A can change THEIR behaviour towards B and that will change the dynamic, not always for the better but you really should stop letting him run you down as he does. No need for a big talk,just do something/saying different e.g. Is there any way I can please you (said in a harsh way not pleading) or "I don't want to hear any more of your criticism" - what do the other 3 make of him. Many people have mentioned theDIL - do you get on with her. Whatever happens the more you allow him to tread on you, the more he will do it.

schnackie Tue 10-Dec-19 11:59:49

Glad to hear you have the other three children. My mother was exactly like this to my grandparents. She was an only child and they bent over backwards helping/bailing her out with financial problems and she treated them like S**t in return. I will never forget the hurt on my grandmother's face time and again when she was told she was a rotten mother. Some people are just nasty. (However, in her defence she looked after my autistic brother all of his life and I just got on with my life...)

Cambia Tue 10-Dec-19 12:26:04

Join the club mothercat. Our younger son of forty finds us lacking too! He has always been challenging from very young and we have tried hard to support and encourage him. He is a lovely compassionate and thoughtful man but thinks far too much. Having now moved to Canada and a different culture he thinks we don’t express our feelings enough and we are typically British.
Whilst we try hard to accept how he feels, I often think that he needs to think how we feel. We can’t and wouldn’t change our characters to what he feels he requires from us as that would not be us then!
I do think growing up should be learning to accept that we are all different and letting everyone live and let live. It really is like walking on eggshells sometimes.

Much as you love them, they need to accept you as you accept them without judging. Unconditional love it is called.

blossom14 Tue 10-Dec-19 12:31:50

It is hard to deal with this type of behaviour. I am really not a perfect Mum but my elder daughter behaves in this way and I put up with it for over 30 years until I could take no more scornful asides ( always when we were alone together). The turning point came after learning how much she ran me down to other people. I think she finds it puzzling that I have withdrawn to such a state of minimum contact that we have a very fractured family situation now.
Next year she will be 60 and I have lost all hope that we can ever have a comfortable grown up relationship

HettyMaud Tue 10-Dec-19 12:40:31

Our children expect us to be perfect and we aren’t. I often pussyfoot around mine and then I ask myself why. In my experience people who do little for others are often the most respected. I do so much for mine but am often spoken to with disrespect and it hurts. At the end of the day we love our children more than they love us which is the way of things.

Rosina Tue 10-Dec-19 12:51:49

I am sorry you are in this situation - it sounds horrible. Have you tried the indifferent approach to his complaints? As 'HettyMaud' has put it so succinctly, we love our children and they know they can lash out and still have that love. A friend had a really hard time with her daughter, and tried the bright smile and the ''I'm off out with so and so for a coffee' (whether true or not) and vanished from the house, leaving daughter to boil in her own bile, and whenever she struck up my friend would remove herself with a valid reason for leaving , demonstrating total lack of concern. This baffled her DD and it really did work - DD actually said to friend one day - while I was wating for her in the hallway - 'Why are you playing me at my own game?' That was met with a smile and 'Rosina and I are off shopping nows-see you later'. I can't imagine what it cost her in frustration, but she wasn't listening to the complaints and therefore not getting ground down by them.

Loobyloo12 Tue 10-Dec-19 13:22:55

When I left home to be married at 19 I decided that our life was our own. My parents bless them took out a loan to pay for the wedding. My husband s parents offered to help out with the rent at first. I never looked to the parents after that for money nor did I berate them for shortcomings. Some of today's adult children imo are spoiled and entitled. When we are adults, I believe we are responsible for ourselves and if we are able, help anyone else who is genuinely struggling. Lecturing someone on their shortcomings is a form of abuse imo. If you want to stay close to new grandson, be loving, say little, take it on the chin.

mothercat Tue 10-Dec-19 13:24:36

@HettyMaud, the estrangement article mentioned that for parents their children are a primary attachment, but for children their parents are a secondary attachment. Thus the comment that we love them more than they seem to love us rings true.

JujuD Tue 10-Dec-19 13:34:23

Been there, seen that! Don't waste your time on him, one day he'll cut you loose because of altered memories! It'll hurt but, you'll be better off without him. Trust me, I know!

librarylady Tue 10-Dec-19 13:56:47

Does he also berate your husband for being 'bad father'? The OP says the decision not to fund him was a joint one, so did Dad get his share of nastiness? Or is Mum just easier to bully.....

Dillyduck Tue 10-Dec-19 14:10:35

It's time he grew up and took responsibility for his own things, and understood that this isn't a perfect world, but we can only do our best with the hand we are dealt with in life.
STOP accepting his blame and turn it back on him!

Hithere Tue 10-Dec-19 14:11:56

Can you elaborate on the "golden child" comment?

It would be very useful to also describe a situation where you also tried to help him (as he requested) and it was not good enough

grandtanteJE65 Tue 10-Dec-19 14:14:35

Reading your account, I felt you had made the right decision in not helping your son financially while he was studying. You said you couldn't afford to and unless you had helped your other children financially, I see no reason why you should have helped him.

As your grandchild grows up, it will undoubtedly dawn upon your son that bringing up children isn't easy. I trust when he does, he will be big enough to admit that their are two sides to the story of his upbringing too.

Sounds as if you are invited to the baby shower, so go, have a lovely time and ask your DIL when you can if she needs any help when the baby arrives, then take it from there.

She may not entirely believe her husband's tale of woe regarding you and his father, but she can't very well say so.

Try to build a good relationship with her and leave your son to come around in his own good time.

Witchypoo Tue 10-Dec-19 15:11:28

My daughter is estranged and i do not know if she has children. My son is so distant. Eggshells everywhere til i decided i had a life and wanted to live it. The chip on his shoulder is so large he doesnt let me see his 3 year old or 5 year old. I am just me on my own. Sad i know but i just couldnt keep eggshell living.

Daddima Tue 10-Dec-19 15:25:26

Did you look at the things you did when you thought you were being supportive and think that maybe he had a point? I’m also a wee bit puzzled about him having to ‘ rein you in’ because you made his life miserable, and you say you didn’t help him if you felt he was making bad decisions.
Could you maybe talk these things over calmly, and agree to change some things, or do you think that would make things worse?

mothercat Tue 10-Dec-19 15:46:51

Thank you for all the comments and anecdotes. This has been helpful. A few people have asked questions so let me take a minute to answer a couple of those.

@librarylady, DH made an interesting comment last night as we talked about this. He feels this is partly his fault for not telling DS "no" often enough. We made decisions jointly but DH always let me be the one to break the news.
I'm not sure I would call him distant when the kids were younger but I seemed to have a much better relationship with them as children and they have turned to their dad as they grew older.
@hithere as for the "golden child" comment. DS is the 3rd child of 4, 2nd son. His oldest brother has Aspberger's, his sister has weight issues related to a medical condition, and youngest child had a skeletal birth defect that required surgery but he is otherwise fine. DS was the good looking athletic one who taught himself how to do magic, sculpting, parkour, and play guitar. He was always the kid everyone wanted to hang with. I didn't treat him differently than the others. Anyone with more than one child knows that the kids are constantly on about fairness so that kept things pretty much in check if one asked for something that the others didn't also get or have.
A situation where we helped and it wasn't good enough? The most recent involved the upcoming baby shower. DIL's sister is hosting and we were invited but not asked to do anything else or if the date was convenient. (It isn't as I had committed to a craft show planned where I sell jams, scones, etc. and had to cancel. I'm self employed so it was a day of lost income.) He called asking for contact information for aunts, uncles, and cousins. I told him who could be contacted on FaceBook since the shower is an e-vite. I also told him who would need a paper invitation because they aren't on FaceBook and I would get him the addresses. I hear nothing from him, DIL or her sister for weeks and encourage husband to communicate to be sure he understands how to connect with those they want to invite. Still nothing. Then this week when I reached out to him again I get a screed about all the family and friends who are willing to help them out and he had expected that we would do more. It was quite harsh.
I didn't respond because I wasn't sure what to say and the next thing is a nice message thanking me for clearing up the invitation issue and asking are we planning anything fun for the evening, looking forward to visiting this weekend, etc.
I have thought several times that this seemed emotionally abusive, which seems an awful thing to say. Yet, I have enough training in abuse dynamics to understand why that is.
And, as for the comment that we didn't trust him to repay the loan? Well, we had cosigned for one loan for his first quarter and explained that it was all we could do. We had also helped him and the other kids with vehicle loans. He is the only one who has missed payments or has been consistently late so I think we had good reason to be wary.

sandelf Tue 10-Dec-19 16:01:01

Sad and difficult. Me too on the 'failed Mum' front. Just have to hope that a time comes when we all recognise that everyone fails in some way, BUT everyone is generally trying to do their best. Perfect is not for human beings smile.